Archive for August, 2009

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Wheelbarrows Full of Poop

August 26, 2009

I’ll admit that I was surprised that you chose to focus on Gulliver’s potential parenting skills as you read (although I shouldn’t be surprised on your odd choices of emphasis in literary interpretation, what with your known fixation on furniture in the literature–(see Justin’s “What the Blue Couch Tells Us, What the Wardrobe Hides:  Furniture in Jane Eyre and The Wide Sargasso: A Post-Colonial Journey”).

I’m choosing to focus on Swift’s use of the scatological…I’m not sure what its purpose is but it sure makes me laugh on the bus.  Those poor Lilliputians who have to cart out Gulliver’s poo!  But still I chortle.

Other than enjoying the potty humor (Oh how I love potty humor!) I don’t really understand what this book is satirizing (granted I’m only through Chapter 2)…right now I’m reading it as a lesson in cultural understanding (or misunderstanding).

I have questions about our Lilliputian friends…Are they tiny people in a human-sized world or is Lilliput completely tiny…I get the sense that their animals are  tiny too…are their trees tiny as well?  How does this work?    And if everything is tiny why don’t they have tiny guns or tiny watches and wouldn’t they be able to extrapolate that Gulliver’s tools are just larger versions of their same tools?  Or are the Lilliputs not as culturally advanced as their human counterparts (are Lilliputs small humans or a different race?)  Am I overthinking this?!?

Oh how I wish I had Jonathan Swift sitting here on the couch next to me to tell me funny jokes about poop and answer all these puzzling questions.

Maybe you’re reading closer than I am (or are farther along) and have some insight?  I’d appreciate it…I’m asea–kind of like Gulliver, funny that.

Back to Gully (Do you think I should refer to Gulliver as Gully or Lemmy?  I think both have their pluses and minuses–I’ll continue to experiment.)

Jon

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Fast Forward

August 21, 2009

No worries about looking to one of my past posts for some inadvertant inspiration. Over the last 29+ years I’ve become used to the varied manifestations of your subconcious hero worship of me. I am not saying it’s warranted, but I accept it.

It’s a good think I actually started reading Gulliver’s Travels otherwise this post likely would have had to have been a thoughtful look at everyone’s favorite mid-80s Sidney Poitier-helmed dance flick (“Fast, Fast Forward…” admittedly the only things I remember about that movie is that 1) it somehow involved breakdancing 2) Sidney Poitier directed it. Needless to say, it would have been a short post.)

But the good news is that ol’ Gulliver and I are now fast friends. I too couldn’t help but notice the relative light speed at which this narrative is moving. I thought to myself, Gulliver’s on the boat, in the water, and on Lilliput in the time it would have taken Katherine Anne Porter to describe Gullivers buff jerkin. Zoom, I say zoom!

I also think that Lemuel has the makings of a potential passive agressive parent. The way he so nonchalantly describes things like shipwrecks and other death-defying events could come back to haunt his kids. I can just imagine one not responding to a letter or missing a visit and getting this response:

“Oh, don’t worry about me. I mean, it’s not like I have never not responded to a letter. Sure, I was being held captive by tens of thousands of microscopic island dwellers, but I understand things come up. I would write more, but I have to go put some balm on the thousands of miniscule wounds I received, you know, building a home for you.”

Well, I am now off to enjoy the rest of my day off from work.

Justin

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Travellin’ Thru

August 19, 2009

First off, apologies.  I looked back at our recent entries and it looks as if I wrote an entry “All Ashore” just days after you wrote “All Ashore, Whose Going Ashore”…that was just lazy titling on my part…that and, I guess, a general disregard to your post titles.  My apologies.

I’m hoping that you learn from my mistake and give some regard to my post title because it was selected to indicate that I have in fact started my travels with Gulliver…and it’s a Dolly Parton song–I love the “Backwoods Barbie”!  (Trivia:  She drinks out of tin cans because it keeps her drinks cooler–I read that in the New Yorker).

Swift does not waste any time getting the story moving…in one page you get Gulliver’s entire life history and on the next he’s already shipwrecked on Lilliput.  No time to waste with that wacky Lemuel.

This book takes the approach that many novels of this era did in that its pretending to be an actual historical document written by a real Lemuel Gulliver and Gulliver is already distancing himself from the text…with an introductory letter to his nephew (cousin?–I don’t remember and I’m too tired to investigate) complaining that his story has been distorted and edited…and when you figure that Swift is hiding behind Gulliver…well you have a lot of distance between author and story.

I’ve only finished Chapter One, so I’m not sure what to think…but it will be hard not to like a book that has a peeing joke in the first few pages:

…and I felt great numbers of the people on my left side relaxing the cords to such a degree, that I was able to turn upon my right, and to ease my self wth making water, which I very plentifully did, to the great astonishment of the people, who conjecturing by my motions what I was going to do, immediately opened to the right and left on that side, to avoid the torrent which fell with such noise and violence from me

I’ve been there…when you have to go, you have to–army of Lilliputians or no army of Lilliputians.

Yes, Lemuel, I think we’ll be great friends.

Gotta get back to Lemmy,

Jon

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“This is a ship of fools”

August 18, 2009

I kid you not, this is actually how the movie version of Ship of Fools

Is this little, less-than-subtle nugget communicated to us through a bit of conversation between Jenny and David, or a confidential aside from Herr Professor Hutten to seasick Bebe? Uhh…no.

It’s told to us in a direct address from Herr Glocken as he speaks to the audience in the opening minute of the movie. And that, my friend, is fairly indicative of the level of subtlety found throughout the movie.

In the book a little piece of Dr. Schumann dies as he leaves La Condesa at Tenerife and he reboards the Vera for Bremerhaven.

In the movie, he just dies. One can only assume of a broken heart. (Unfortunately, his tragic death leaves the ship without a doctor to make this less than scientific diagnosis. That would have been in keeping with the rest of the movie.) 

Okay, now that I’ve read the book and seen the movie, I am ready to put all things Ship of Fools behind me. 

So, tomorrow, I start my travels with Lemuel. 

Justin

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All Ashore

August 13, 2009

…who’s going ashore!  That’s me (and you and Lizzi and Johann and Bebe!).  That’s right…I’ve safely made it to the other side of the mammoth potboiler Ship of Fools.  And never have I been so happy to get off a fictional since you and I walked dazedly into the sun from the matinee showing of Out to Sea.

Actually I finished last night (for the record)…but I finished it after splitting a bottle of wine at dinner, so I was in no state to post about finishing.   If I had it probably would have read something like this…

I love Ship of Fools!  KAP is awesome!  Oh man when that ship took off and sailed across the ocean…awesome.  I mean words don’t describe (not that KAP didn’t try!  and try and try!).  I think my favorite part was when………………

Wine makes me sleepy.

So now I can look back with a clear head…and I think the book was so-so.  Overwritten by about two-thirds, but still not completely unenjoyable.  I’ll admit that as the cast of characters made their final disembarkment onto land, I felt a little sad.

But not too sad to throw the book up, kick my heels together and yelp “Woohoo!  I’m finished!”

I will add one final thought…it was creepy that the Baumgartner’s had a little bit of make up loving while little Hans was sleeping on the cot a few feet over…oh to be a fly on the wall in his future therapy sessions!

So now on to Gulliver’s Travels and I’ll admit I’m filled with some slight trepidation…last time we did satire it was Dead Souls (eek!) and the last time we did sea travel it was this book…hopefully G’sT will mark a “change in course” for us and lead us to more “pleasurable waters.” (Those were meant to be “nautical terms” but I’m not sure that just “putting things in quotes” makes them nautical).

Until we get Gulliverized,

Jon

P.S.  Didn’t they make a mini-series of Gulliver’s Travels back in the 90s starring Ted Danson…got to go Netflix that!

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Fool Proof

August 13, 2009

You know when you start talking about Big Brother it’s like you go from sensical English to some gibberish-based language that I cannot make heads or tails of. For example you say:

“Give the nominee a chance to win the power of veto.”

I hear:

“Gibbidly-knock blah-blah ting booooonnnng burffidy thwap.”

So you can imagine my confusion. Perhaps instead of watching voyeuristic “reality” television you should be spending some quality time with Herr Glocken, La Condesa, and the crew (literally, the crew) and reading some Ship of Fools.

I’ve been enjoying some non-SOF reading. Here’s a sample from Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith:

“Uly needed a windmill water pump fixed, and my brother stepped up to say he and I knew windmills like the back of our hands–which would have been true had our hands been something we saw only on occasion, and then from a distance.”

See, don’t you wish you were done reading Ship of Fools too?

Justin

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Still Asea

August 11, 2009

I had such good intentions of finishing this book this weekend…but this weekend ended up being filled with my good intentions falling by the wayside…first my good intention to see Julie and Julia was quashed by tornado sirens (I decided to take cover instead) and  now not finishing Ship of Fools.

On Saturday I pushed through like fifty pages in the afternoon and it seemed so promising, but then I just couldn’t motivate myself to pick it up on Sunday (even God rested on Sunday…cut me some slack).  Instead I watched some Big Brother on the Roku (I bet we’re thinking the same thing….”How could they backdoor Casey?”   On a purely Big Brother related tangent…I feel like in the last few seasons “back-dooring” has really become the standard as opposed to the exception….to me it feels a bit like dirty pool–at least give the nominee the chance to fight for the Power of Veto–and that’s all I’ll say about BB).

So the end of the shipride party is just beginning where I’m at in the book and I’m a little confused…it seems like there’s some random costume wearing while others are just dressed gaily–this party doesn’t seem to be very well organized.  I guess this kind of lack of planning makes for “good reading” but I think in “real life” I’d mark this Evite “Not Attending”.

Well I’m going to get back this ship,

Jon